There’s no dispute that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are beneficial to canine diets, but the source of the omega-3s can impact absorption in the body. In a new study from Aker BioMarine, a team of scientists sought to uncover the dietary effects of omega-3s delivered by Antarctic krill meal versus fish oil.
“The key differentiator between the two marine-sourced dietary supplements is that the majority of krill-derived omega-3s are bound to phospholipids, while omega-3s from fish oil are bound to triglycerides. Our study aimed to measure the differences between the two, in terms of which is the most effective when it comes to uptake into red blood cell membranes,” said Dr. Lena Burri, Director R&D, Animal Nutrition and Health, Aker BioMarine.
The experiment: krill meal versus fish oil in diets of 20 Alaskan Huskies
The subjects of the study were 20 Norway-bred, high-performance Alaskan Huskies, a breed of dog known for its athleticism, and their ability to sustain health and quickly recover after long-distance adventures, such as the world’s longest and toughest dog sled race, Iditarod.
The dogs were randomly divided into two groups; one group received a proprietary krill meal supplement (QRILL Pet, Aker BioMarine) in their diet, while the other group received a fish oil supplement (NorSalmOil). Each diet equated 1.7 grams of daily EPA and DHA intake.
“The objective of the study was to assess the efficacy of dietary inclusion of equal amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in phospholipid from krill meal versus triglyceride structure from fish oil to increase the omega-3 fatty acid profile in red blood cells in dogs. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are recognized for their positive impact on many biochemical and physiological functions, including skin, heart, liver and the immune system,” added Dr. Burri.
The results: krill meal group shows increase in amount of DHA and EPA in blood
After six weeks, blood samples were taken from the dogs in order to compare to the baseline. The results showed that while both groups experienced an increase in omega-3 fatty acids (and decrease in omega-6 fatty acids), the dogs consuming the krill meal diet had the greatest increase. The levels of DHA and EPA in the blood of the krill meal-consuming dogs went from 3.9% at the baseline to 6.3% at the conclusion of the study, while the fish oil diet yielded an end result of 4.7%.
“The influence of the different delivery molecules became evident already after three weeks of feeding, and at study end there was a 62% increase in the Omega-3 Index in the krill meal group, whereas the triglyceride form of the fish oil group was associated with a 21% increase,” said Knut Heggen, Vice President QRILL Pet Sales, Aker BioMarine.
“Our research concluded that just six weeks of a 8% krill meal supplemented diet for dogs was an efficient way to increase the levels of the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (DHA and EPA), which implies that phospholipids serve as a more effective means to deliver omega-3s versus triglyceride-bound omega-3s,” concluded Heggen.
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